Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Week in Writing #227

This is supposed to be one of those weeks when you take a look back at what you've done and look forward to what you want to get accomplished. I'm going to resist the temptation to look back at 52 weekly posts to come up with this year-end post.

Let's begin with Powers Squared. So much has happened and there is still so much to do. We began the year with a new creative team. Paul and I wanted to take the comic book in a new direction and we were happy to start working with Rachel Wells and Nina Gaillard on the comic book. Because of them, this has been a very productive year, which we will begin releasing in 2019. We've completed three issues and are about a month or so away from completing a fourth. (It previously took us two full years to get five done.)

The last three of the first five issues came out this year and despite some nice publicity, including an interview with FreakSugar, reviews in First Comic News, a nice write-up in Adventures in Poor Taste and an Ask Me Anything, I don't think we broke any sales records. In fact, I don't think we've sold enough to warrant getting paid by comiXology. (In fact, I think the lack of sales caused them to sort of turn their backs on us, so to speak.) It would be easy to give up, but I think the best stories are still to come.

I don't talk about the cost to produce the comic book (and I won't here, either) but let's just say it takes just about every extra penny we have and preventing us, as a family, from doing things like taking vacations, doing things to the house, to buying a new car. I'm hoping to change some of that by doing some crowdfunding in the coming year. I don't want you to cry for me Argentina, but we're hoping to get some help and, hopefully, more exposure for the comic.

We've tried to grow our social media presence with a website, a Facebook page, an Instagram account, Tumblr account, Twitter account, a YouTube Channel, and, lastly, a Pinterest account. That's not to say we've been successful on all fronts. You have to keep feeding these platforms and sometimes that's very difficult. I don't want to get too far ahead with revealing too much about future issues so that when they come out we have new images to share. At the same time, I wanted to promote the issues that came out last year, which sort of left our current Creative Team on the sidelines while we did that.

Now, we can concentrate on our new issues. I plan to submit Issues 6 and 7 early in the new year to comiXology but would also like to see if we can get some support from some of the media outlets that had supported us last time out.

Would also like to look into printing on demand. To that end, I spent some time this week coming up with back covers, both inside and out, for the issues. Now to get those reviewed and then we'll see where to go from there.

Work has already begun on Issue #10. We've submitted the script to Rachel, who has already begun to do some sketches for a new character we're introducing. She also seemed to really like the script which is a good thing as we're going to be living with this story arc for most of the coming year. This story arc is called What's in a Name? and will continue for three issues.

Trophy Unlocked celebrated its eighth anniversary and the 900th review post this past year. We're getting our end of the year posts ready and those will be out tomorrow, the 31st. This past week, we posted three new reviews. In addition to our usual Saturday Morning Review, What Price Hollywood?, we also published a review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which Trevor wrote. We also published one more from Paul for Ready Player One.

Every year, we spend the day after Christmas watching movies, which we call Movie Day (I know, really clever). As a result, we have a couple of reviews, including Ready Player One and one I wrote for Wonder Wheel. Not sure if we'll be writing reviews of the other films we watched that day or not. One of them, Incredibles 2, we've already written about.

While I wasn't sure last week about the rewrite for The Runaway, I did some work on Christmas Day and a couple of other days this past week. The stumbling block I thought I had sort of disappeared when I got back to it. So I'm about 12,000 words into that rewrite.

Still no word from my editor on Familiar Stranger. Despite his promises to the contrary, it has been radio-silence for most of this year. I did receive about 50 pages but that was literally months ago. I wish I didn't feel the pressure to get the work done but I do. And frankly, I have a hard time when other people don't feel the same urgency. But there isn't much I can do to light a fire under him.

I need to spend some time putting together a list of potential agents to try and sell Broken People. I've kept spreadsheets in the past but I think I'm going to start the process from scratch. There are a few agents from the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference that I'd like to query to as well.

So next year, I hope it's a breakout year for Powers Squared, with more eyes on Trophy Unlocked and I find an agent for my books. Tall order, but that's what dreams are made of.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Week in Writing #226

Well, the holidays are practically upon us and as I suspected prep has taken its toll on output.

For the most part, I'm rethinking The Runaway. I got to the point where I'm not sure where to go next. My premise needs more attention that I can give it at the moment. I need to figure out how my PI can find someone with little or no information provided by his client. It will take some thinking and perhaps research so it moved to back burner for now.

This week in Powers Squared has been fairly active as everyone involved gets ready for Christmas and family. Our colorist, Nina, has notified us that she won't be able to finish the next four pages until after the New Year. That should be fine since there won't be more than four pages and a cover for her to do in January, so I don't anticipate us getting behind schedule.

Rachel sent us the final pages for Issue #9 and the cover both based on a little feedback we gave her. I really like how the last panel got worked out.

We finished a rather last minute rewrite on the script for the next story arc, Issues 10-12, currently called What's In a Name? It started with my taking a final look which led to some rewrites and then more edits from Trevor and Paul. Some of the changes were grammatical (apparently I don't know a question when I write one) and word choice. We had pretty much worked it all out prior but this is the 12th and hopefully last rewrite.

Rachel has, in the past, made some artistic changes but we're also curious about how she likes the story since we're all going to be living with it for most of the coming year. She seemed anxious to get to work on it but I'm not expecting anything from her until after the holidays.

Still trying to Direct Message Powers Squared followers to also follow us on other social media sites. Once again, I did five and then Twitter won't let me do any more than that at one sitting. Not sure what's up with that but it does make sure I'm not spending too much time on social media. So far, the results haven't been overwhelming, no new followers on Tumblr or YouTube, as a result, this week. I know its supposed to be an uphill march but I never realized it would be this slow.

Our poll question, "Who is your favorite supporting character in Powers Squared?" has gotten our usual one vote so far. Somehow the saying, if you can reach just one person, seems a little hollow when you only ever reach is one. If I knew who the person is who responds to the poll question every week I'd point them out for praise. Again, thank you for paying attention.

New video up on YouTube, A Week in Powers Squared #13. You can watch it here. Paul and I discuss the origins of the characters: Uncle Brian, Mocha, and Jennifer Perry.

As far as Trophy Unlocked goes, we've completed our annual look at Christmas films with the comedy The Santa Clause. But wait that's not all, Paul reviewed Once Upon a Deadpool, which is a PG-13 version of the R-rated hit Deadpool 2, which came out much earlier this year. A bit of a box office grab for Fox/Disney, but really worth the trouble if you managed to see a screening during its limited run. I'm sure it will see the light of day on home video next year if you missed it.

I did finish two more reviews, one for next week, What Price Hollywood? and one for next Christmas, Cover Up, so you're going to have to wait for that one for about a year. With the year coming to a close, please look out for our annual lists of Highlights from the past year, with each of the reviewers weighing in with their own lists. Those should be out early next week which means you'll have to wait a few days for those.

So until next week, hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Week in Writing #225

With the holidays upon us, some writing has been spent on Christmas cards rather than rewrites. Couple that with general fatigue (am I still getting over it being dark at 5pm?), a dental appointment, shopping, and a neighbor who suddenly had to discuss replacing our common fence and this wasn't my most productive week. That doesn't mean nothing happened, but when there are so few hours in the day to write in a day, every hour is precious and not to be wasted. That's not to say that all there is to life is writing, but I hate it when I haven't done any during the day.

This week in Powers Squared, sort of quiet for most of the week. We did receive four pages from Nina, pages 9 through 12 of Issue #9. They came in at 11 pm our time on Saturday night, so Paul and I haven't at the time I'm writing this, which is Sunday morning, had a chance to look at them. Had a bit of a scare when I got a notification that Dropbox could no longer synch with my computer so I couldn't see her pages. Turned out to be a pretty easy fix, literally pointing the Dropbox to the E drive instead but it was a momentary concern.

Decided to get serious with the script for the next issue, currently What's in a Name? I haven't looked at the script for a couple of months and with fresh eyes I am finding some changes that we need to make. Hopefully, I can get that done in the next few days so it's ready for review and for our artist come the beginning of the year.

Still trying to make a social media push. Decided I could direct message those who are following the comic book on Twitter and ask them to follow us on Tumblr, YouTube, and Pinterest. I'm finding that after five DMs in a day, Twitter will no longer let me send messages; not sure what that's about. So far, the only reactions have been from Nina or related to her. Not sure if that's a good percentage, like 20 DMs and 2 responses but it would be nice if someone with no connection to the project would step up. I'm posting our linktree in case there is something you might care to follow us on as it relates to Powers Squared. As I say, any and all support is greatly appreciated.

It's a little disconcerting to try to keep all the balls in the air and realize so few people are watching. Our weekly vlogs are becoming an exercise in frustration as we tend to have few or no views. Last week's at this point has zero views. Our weekly poll on the website gets few hits; week after week, we get one vote. Whoever you are, thank you.

I did do some rewrites on The Runaway. I did have some time to think about it on my hour plus each way daily commute and did find some time to work on it on Saturday afternoon. Sort of interesting experience to writing a murder mystery while listening to Christmas carols but I think the pages I worked on did get better.

On the review front, I've tinkered a little with Song of the South but haven't really make any real progress on getting it done. Published our third Christmas review, this one Babes in Toyland (1934) aks March of the Wooden Soldiers. This version stars the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.

We attended a somewhat botched preview screening of Aquaman on Saturday. This was a paid screening but the lights were left on through the first ten minutes and for a few seconds towards the end of a scene the sound went out; not the AMC putting its best foot forward. Did write and publish a review this morning.

So looking back, while I'm disappointed I didn't do more, I did get somethings done. It's all about moving the chain every week.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Week in Writing #224

This week I tried #PitMad on Thursday. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is a Twitter event, short for Pitch Madness, in which you tweet a 240 or less synopsis of your book in hopes that a participating agent will like your tweet and request pages, etc. You can tweet up to three times during the event which runs from 8AM to 8PM EST and it is recommended that you change up your tweet up, in case one version catches interest. I decided to try Broken People, the novel I had just completed rewriting.

I had three written different tweets but since the event conveniently overlaps with my work hours, I only sent out two tweets during #PitMad. Well, maybe third time would have been the charm since I received zero likes. As with most of my interactions with social media, the results have been less than stellar. And, of course, I'm not too discouraged so this isn't the last post on this blog.

Speaking of Broken People, I'm still making touchups. It's hard to stop polishing. The truth is, that no matter how polished you might think it is when you submit, you will more than likely have to make further edits as part of your road to getting an agent and getting published; or so I've been told.

I'm still thinking about the next project. At this point, I'm leaning toward Runaway, a novel I had started but for reasons I can't remember, stopped writing. Before re-editing Broken People, I had made some edits on Runaway, so that seems like the logical next project. The plot gets a little convoluted and as I'm a pantser (meaning I write without a plan) so I may have lost my way the first time around.

Sort of a light week when it comes to Trophy Unlocked. I'm still working on a review for Song of the South, a film we watched a week or so ago. But other things have gotten in the way of getting further along with the review. We have the four reviews we need for Christmas this season, so there isn't a lot of pressure to come up with one for the rest of the year. Speaking of which, we did publish a review of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the 1966 TV Special, on which the recent feature film is partially based.

In other Trophy Unlocked news, we went to an advance screening of Bumblebee this past Saturday night. The sixth installment in the live-action Transformers series is really very good. Trevor, our resident Transformers expert, wrote and published his review. He is by far the best choice to do that.

This week in Powers Squared, the week started with thumbnails for the last four pages of Issue #9 from our artist, Rachel Wells. She sends us two versions and Paul and I picked the ones we liked. I don't think we picked one page over another but rather these panels from one version, the layout from one version but the panels from another.

We also received several cover ideas from her as well and chose one in particular for her to work on. The cover, as you can imagine, is very important. Trevor also finished lettering the first eight pages of Issue #9, so he's caught up for now.

On the subject of social media, Paul and I are still trying to find a following for our weekly vlog on YouTube, A Week in Powers Squared. Even though we have three followers, we can always use more, we're only getting a couple of views, which I wouldn't be surprised are us looking at it.

We're finding it hard to get much traction in social media. Not only do we have few views on YouTube, but we still have no followers on Tumblr, not that we don't publish something there every week. We're similarly unknown on Pinterest, which I just started pinning on, if that's the right term. I have one follower there but I think that's more because I know my follower from another place. If you want to be a hero, follow Powers Squared on one or all three. It won't cost anything and it would be greatly appreciated. Consider it a free gift for the holidays. Always better to give than receive.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Week in Writing #223

The big news for Powers Squared this week is the new banner and channel description we've put up on the YouTube website. The image was done by Rachel Wells. Paul wrote most of the description, which was better than the one I came up with, something along the lines of  "A weekly exercise in futility as two men try in vain to grow their social media in a series of unviewed vlogs."

Seriously, we would appreciate it that if you read this blog you'll also take a look at our latest video and would like it even more if you could subscribe and ring the bell so you can receive  notifications when new videos are available. They're the usual rubbish and no longer than a few minutes, so it won't take long to show your support.

Seeing as this is the end of the month, we've received eight pages from Rachel, bringing us up to page 16 and four more pages from Nina, bringing that part up to page 8. Trevor also lettered three pages, so it seems to be firing on all cylinders.

This is the week that both Powers Squared and Trophy Unlocked made their first appearances on Pinterest. While I've had an account for awhile, I had never really done anything with it, other than collect pins on a private board. I decided that maybe it would be another way to publicize both. Pinterest brings up to six the number of social media accounts we now have for Powers Squared. For Powers Squared, I'm trying to upload images from the comic book pointing back to the website. I started with the main characters and will hopefully be adding more as the days go on.

Speaking of Trophy Unlocked, we had a bit of milestone this week as Trevor's review of
Starlink: Battle for Atlas for the Nintendo Switch makes the 900th one on the blog Paul started 8 years ago.

We also got the Christmas Holiday reviews started with Trevor's review of the animated The Tailor of Gloucester (1993), an adaptation of a Beatrix Potter story. Recently, Trevor has really gotten into Potter's artwork and this seemed like a natural for him to review and to kick off the season.

On that subject, I came across a Christmas review that I had done but had not published, Laurel and Hardy's Babes in Toyland (1934), aka March of the Wooden Soldiers. That will most likely appear before we wrap up our annual salute to Holiday films.

I also published my review of A Star is Born (2018), just on the tail end of its theatrical run. We don't see all movies when they first come out so it's no slam on the film that it took so long to get a review written. Publishing it became tricky with the milestone, so it had to be fitted in before it got to be too old. Oh, the joys of blogging.

In other writing, I finally finished my rewrites on Broken People, though there may be some tweaking to come. It sort of felt a little anti-climatic to finish it. While rewrites are a bit of a beast, I get nostalgic for the process as I'm finishing it. This one, as I've discussed, was more than just rewriting but also blending two stories into one. I sort of changed the ending, as I took the better of the two previous ones with a bit of a twist. Right now, its 94,281 words and 519 pages.

And just when you think you're done hearing about it, I do have news on the editor and Familiar Stranger. It seems he had a birthday recently, which means he's still alive, so one question answered. In my greeting, I slid in something like "Hope to hear from you soon" to which he replied that I would be soon. Now soon isn't exactly a definitive time but this was the first acknowledgement from him in months, so who knows, something might actually come of it. I guess the keyword here is "Might" but at least there's hope. And what a better way to start out the holidays.